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Polis urges Colorado school districts, local governments to reduce tax levies

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Colorado Governor Jared Polis is urging local governments and school districts to reduce property taxes after surges in property assessments throughout Colorado.

Polis signed into law last week a reduction in residential property tax valuations from 6.765 percent and a $15,000 subtraction on the assessment to 6.7 percent and a $55,000 subtraction. Polis previously signed into law a regulation for local governments and school districts to temporarily lower their mill levies to provide additional tax relief to property owners. A mill levy is a tax rate multiplied by the assessed value of a property to determine the taxes due.

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Polis directed Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs to help local taxing jurisdictions in lowering tax rates while also managing budgets and expenditures. In a letter to local government officials and staff, Polis provided a “toolkit” with eight questions for managing property tax revenue reductions, inflation and mill levies.

Ben Murrey, the fiscal policy director of the Independence Institute, praised Polis’ action.

“Gov. Polis is right about this,” Murrey posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Local governments across Colorado CAN and SHOULD provide additional property tax relief, particularly in areas of the state that experienced large increases in property values.”

Polis also signed a bill this week creating a property tax task force.

“Property owners are now looking to their local elected officials for help during this challenging time,” Polis said in a statement. “Each and every one of Colorado’s four thousand taxing jurisdictions should be a part of this solution by reducing rates, even if by a small amount. If we all work together – the state and every local government – we can ensure homeowners throughout Colorado are protected.”

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Polis pointed to a plan by the Colorado Mountain College special district to reduce a mill levy. The district, which includes Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Lake, Garfield, Pitkin, Summit, and Routt counties, plans to reduce its mill levy so its tax revenue growth will be near the inflation rate of 5.7 percent.

“Now it’s up to you – local elected officials – to do more, which is why I am urging you to reduce mill levies in your district over which you have discretion,” Polis wrote in a letter to school district directors and superintendents. “Some school districts have discretion and capacity to temporarily reduce non-instructional bond and/or override levies, such as those affecting capital projects, technology, or transportation while still preserving revenue gains given the historic rise in assessed values. You can lower these levies this assessment cycle without risking a permanent loss of revenue in future years.”